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Randidly raised his hands like a conductor. How did one construct a world?

One piece at a time, he supposed. The first action he did was construct the core. The creature was right about one thing; his knowledge of time was a useful base. But he didn’t want to rely on just the objective face of time, but also the subjective one. He wanted to created an interactive system of time that would function through the core.

With a pounding headache, Randidly’s hands began to move. The empty and cold emerald crystals, vacated by the wisps, were his first medium, as he began to shape and work with them, turning them into wheels, cogs, clockwork, pressing them together into a huge, complicated pattern. They were empty vessels, used to holding life, so Randidly took a fragment of the creature’s great weapon and put them into each one, sliding into their emptiness, filling and animating the crystals with a cool illumination.

They once more glowed with power, but it was an unnerving, unwavering black light they produced, filled with destructive energy. Faster and faster Randidly moved, bound only by the limits of his will. Perhaps in real life, such a thing would be impossible, but here, in his Soulscape, constructing his new Soul Skill… it was possible to move these things with just his will.

Luckily, the amount of empty crystals was huge, so Randidly had all the materials he needed to work with in order to create a large construct, designed to release energy and radiation upwards in the form of Aether. The fuel for machine was the core of the weapon, a large rune that looked like a hand, halfway between being open and being clenched into a fist. The “fingers” curled with obvious power, and a perfection of construction that left him speechless. Even with the fact he was in absolute control, here in his soul, he could not break this core of the construct.

But he could harness its ambient energy, fueling his world’s clockwork core. He was inexperienced, in the grand scheme of things, but his familiarity with clockwork mastery due to his few experiments was enough. In addition, here in his soul, anything was possible. He just added more and more complexity, trusting to his intuition, even when his senses were at a loss.

When he slid the last cog into place, the whole thing trembled, then began to hum, as the wheels slowly began to turn. The black light produced by the core grew brighter, in so much that it shifted towards the color spectrum of grey, a strange, pure energy flowing upwards.

Randidly abruptly returned to himself, and found himself sweating. That… had felt like it had taken him a lifetime, but as his subjective time snapped back to the objective, it seemed it had only taken him a few seconds. But still, another strike from the creature was imminent.

With a wave of his hand, Randidly gathered the shattered shell of the weapon seed and slowly lowered it towards the core, surrounding it. The hole he made was large, too large to completely eradicate, so Randidly hesitated. Then he manipulated the crust of his new world, stretching and separating it, so there wasn’t just one big hole, but 8 small holes, and then innumerable holes that were extremely tiny. From these holes, that grey power gushed upwards.

The he reached for the cold, murderous energy, the energy of rain, and towards his soul skill. The wisps swirled excitedly.

Warning! Your actions will deconstruct your current Soul Skill. If another one isn’t created shortly with a similar or greater level of power, some of the benefits you have gained will decay. Proceed with caution-

Eyes burning, Randidly ignored the message. He knew, in a way, that what he was doing was foolish. The system, at least partially, was a way of absorbing meaning, shaping your own Aether in a way that was proven to give power. But he had left that path. After meeting the creature, after seeing this world…

He needed a power that was enough to shake the system.

As if on cue, Randidly’s mentalscape shook, hit once more by the finger of the creature, and a loud crash revealed that this blow had finally shattered his remaining defenses, or at least most of them. The sinister power of the creature came creeping back, but it was far too late.

Randidly pressed, and cut, splitting all four, murderous cold, cool rain, pulsing rot, and burning ash, each into 2 pieces, and flattened each of those 8 split bits of energy into a membrane. These membranes were lowered onto the 8 main holes on the crust. At first the grey energy resisted it, building up behind the membrane, but then the pressure grew to the point that it was enough, and it burst through, throwing up this elementally aligned energy into the sky and the world, dying the slowly growing world different colors.

Around the murderous cold membranes, chilly wastelands began to form. The Rain membranes created seas, which spawn rivers and streams that flowed outwards into other territories. The Rot membrane created vast swamps, with forests and plains growing around the edge. The Ash energy cause volcanoes to form, making mountain ranges and lava plumes.

Randidly beckoned at the growing number of wisps, “Now it’s your guys turn.”

Them

“Come here, children. Let me make you more.”

More. MORE.

The wisps swirled down towards Randidly excitedly, a huge storm with him at their center. But before he touched them, he pulled on his connections to his four blessed individuals. He needed power, but more than power, he needed their meaning.

It came to him, first in spurts, then it a crashing rush, four strange rivers of meaning, and those rivers flowed upwards through the wisps, grabbing them and dragging them away, throwing them on the crust that Randidly had assembled.

The ones swept up in the meaning from Annie were deposited on the world as a strange creature that resembled a centaur, except with a four legged insect as a body, rather than a horse. Their legs were dangerously sharp, and their arms were long and willowy. Their heads were slightly insect-like too, flat and with strange eyes. There were not many of these, but they grouped together and began to explore the world around them.

Sam’s meaning made a small, hardy people similar to dwarves or gnomes. There arms were thick and powerful, and their fingers were long and dextrous. They immediately stumbled out of their stream of energy and looked around, and began to build and dig.

Alana’s people were almost golem like, thick, strong people that seemed to be formed of rock and clay. They immediately began fighting each other as they were created, and split into factions.

Mrs. Hamiton’s people were the most numerous, and the most secretive. They were spiders, but slimey spiders that appeared to be aquatic, although they could survive on land for amounts of time. They crept into the oceans and rivers and swamps, slowly building kingdoms underneath the water.

As all of the wisps were consumed, and transformed into different forms of life for his Soul Skill, Randidly felt a twinge of regret already. They had certainly lost something, those wisps, as he changed them. They had lost their innocence, their ability to freely live and split without any worries. Now there would be strife among them, be war. But they now also had meaning.

Their life had been bound, but now they had bodies. Hopefully that was enough compensation.

There was another tremble, and another huge noise, and Randidly knew that the rejection bubble had been completely destroyed by the creature, and that it was rushing towards him. But he couldn’t look away from this exceedingly intricate world he had created. Spreading his hands, he let images from his skills fall to the world, populating it with unique things, transforming a small area around where they landed. Plants grew more common everywhere as he created a giant image of his Root Control and pressed.

He couldn’t use the Golden Roots of Yggdrasil, but he could will that image into the world, and roots slowly grew down from the crust, thickening it, and binding the energy producing core to the world. These would hopefully continue to grow and evolve, as the clockwork continued to move.

Then Randidly relaxed.

A new Soul Skill has been created. Would you like to assimilate this Soul Skill? Warning, if you have insufficient fuel, or your body lacks the requisite strength, there may be negative consequences.

“YOU-----------!” The Creature howled as it rushed towards his back, but Randidly simply smiled.

“Yes, let’s do it.”

There was a strange spark in his inner world, as everything became so bright that everything became insubstantial. The light was of such a magnitude that it eliminated matter, and just left itself, and Randidly’s flimsy understanding of existence. Soon, that too was knocked away, leaving him free. Simultaneously, a wave smashed outwards, a powerful wave as something shifted.

The wave passed Randidly like a warm, familiar hand, formed of Aether. It was extremely gentle and welcoming, and tousled his hair. But as it rushed further past him, it turned into a gale that smashed the creature, even as it continued to howl and form shapes of Aether. Unfortunately, the light even made the Creature’s Aether irrelevant.

For a moment Randidly was in awe of the power of the thing he created, but then he realized that wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t that his Soul Skill was all powerful, but simply that the assimilation of the Soul Skill was a process somehow condoned and aided by the system. This light was the system acting, eliminating interference as the process started.

Which chilled Randidly even further. Because the creature was so far beyond his current level, and yet it was so casually pushed back by a normal process of the system. Although the creature might be holding back some of its strength rather than clash directly against the system, so as not to alert the being that started this all, it was still unable to get around it.

But then the light brightened further, and Randidly couldn’t stand it any longer, and was forced out of his own inner world, abruptly waking up in his own body, breathing heavily.

Then his chest began to burn, and it wasn’t the icy hot burn of Aether, or the ripping, tearing feeling he had experienced as he grew too powerful with his Soul Skill, but something else entirely.

It was the feeling of release somehow, but also of danger. His hastily assembled world sunk into his heart, aligning with his physical heart, and now also with the hole in his chest that was the core of his Aether Crossroads.

His body began to tremble, first only slightly, then violently.

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